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3 Sleeper Tight Ends with Top-5 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

3 Sleeper Tight Ends with Top-5 Potential (2024 Fantasy Football)

Since 2018, the tight end position has become a battle of the haves and the have-nots. You either draft Travis Kelce in round one or settle for one of the others. Mark Andrews did finish as the TE1 during that magical 2021 season but Kelce paced the position in points-per-game in 4/5 seasons between 2018-2022.

That domination took a step back last season. The Kansas City offense went through the motions for much of the regular season and Kelce dropped to TE2 for the second time in three seasons. Kelce did ramp it up in the postseason but his regular-season fantasy production fell more in line with his peers at the position.

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I’ve often said you’re better off taking a late-round tight end than someone in the middle rounds and 2023 reinforced that. The difficult part is identifying the right prospect. However, building depth at the core positions before taking an upside TE in the late rounds is the recipe for success. Those who followed my advice on drafting Lions tight end Sam LaPorta last season will agree.

Enough about previous seasons. It’s time to look forward. Here are three TE2s with top-five upside you should target in early 2024 drafts.

TE2s with Top-5 Potential

Brock Bowers (TE – UGA): ADP 88.4 | TE13

When looking for undervalued high-upside players, rookie tight ends are enticing targets in the later rounds. While rookie tight ends sometimes take a little time to adjust to the league, the top prospects are usually more talented than veteran tight ends in the same range.

When a “generational prospect” like Georgia’s Brock Bowers enters the league, the odds are even more in your favor. Since bursting onto the scene as a true freshman, Bowers has been the best player on the field for a program stocked to the brim with talent. The NFL is a different ballgame but Bowers’ game should translate to the next level.

Once Bowers is officially drafted into the NFL and his landing spot is known, his average draft position (ADP) will rise. If Bowers lands in a good situation, his ADP will increase in the weeks after the draft. If he lands in a great situation, his ADP will rise immediately, so draft him at TE13 while you still can.

Cole Kmet (TE – CHI): ADP 134.1 | TE15

I don’t love investing in a fifth-year tight end who has never finished top-five at the position but the value on Bears tight end Cole Kmet is too good to pass up. Despite finishing as the TE7 in consecutive seasons, Kmet is currently the 15th tight end off the board at 134.1 overall.

There is more target competition in Chicago next season in the form of running back D’Andre Swift and wide receiver Keenan Allen but improved quarterback play should keep Kmet in the TE1 conversation. And if USC’s Caleb Williams has a C.J. Stroud type of rookie season, there’s a scenario in which Kmet reaches new heights in fantasy production.

Michael Mayer (TE LV): ADP 163.6 | TE17

Earlier in this article, we noted rookie tight ends aren’t always instantly successful in the National Football League. For every Sam LaPorta, there are about 20-30 tight ends who fail to live up to the hype in year one. Many of those prospects eventually find their way but it typically takes a season or two to adjust to the big leagues.

Just because we don’t get that instant gratification doesn’t mean we should give up on certain players. Las Vegas tight end Michael Mayer is a perfect example of this. It was an up-and-down season for Mayer in year one but the Notre Dame product flashed his potential during his rookie season.

Mayer scored 9+ fantasy points in only three contests last season but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the next season. Improved quarterback play, a higher target share and a second-year leap could lead to Mayer’s NFL breakout.

After signing veteran Gardner Minshew this offseason, quarterback play should take a step forward next season. Las Vegas also cut ties with slot receiver Hunter Renfrow and progress-stopper Austin Hooper, freeing up some targets for Mayer. Now it’s on Mayer to take the second-year leap and make us all look foolish for letting him fall to 163.6 overall.

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